Paris (AFP) – France captain Hugo Lloris insisted Les Blues “don’t feel like favourites” despite being fancied to win Euro 2016 which they start on Friday against Romania on Friday.
The hosts start the 24-team tournament at the Stade de France in Paris hoping to emulate the French sides that won the 1984 Euros and 1998 World Cup at home.
Lloris insisted more should be expected of world champions Germany and holders Spain despite France being one of the top contenders to lift the trophy on July 10.
“We don’t feel like favourites at all, I don’t think we’ve proved anything thus far if we compare ourselves to Spain and Germany,” said the Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper.
“Playing on home soil is a positive we have over the other sides and we need to make the most of that.
“We’ve won nine of the last 10 matches, but we still have everything to do and I hope from tomorrow night we start with a victory.”
French coach Didier Deschamps was captain in 1998 when an ethnically diverse squad united the nation with their success.
Now he is charged with lifting the spirits of a country beset by social unrest and fears of a repeat of the attacks that hit Paris in November killing 130 people.
However, Deschamps also played down France’s tag as favourites.
“Based on their experience and results over the last few years these two sides Germany, as the reigning world champions, and Spain, based on what they have achieved, begin the competition with the legitimate aim of being able to win it.”
Deschamps has a huge array of quality attacking talent to choose from to try and break down a Romanian side that had the best defensive record in qualifying.
Yet, he was keen to stress the importance of France defending well, despite the absence of the injured Raphael Varane and Jeremy Mathieu and suspended Mamadou Sakho due to a doping violation.
“In a big competition you have to strike the right balance and defend well. During our training camps, training sessions we have focused on having an effective defensive unit.
“I picked these players. I know their qualities, there are players with different characteristics, we’ve been able to score a lot of goals and create a lot of problems for the opponents.
“If you want to go far in the competition clearly you need to have great attacking potential.”
On top of a huge security operation amid fears the tournament could be hit by a militant attack, transport strikes over the French government’s controversial labour reforms could strand thousands of travelling fans.
Lloris lamented the fact off-field issues could overshadow France’s bid for glory once the action gets underway.
“I am a spectator too, I hope it won’t spoil the party because in a competition like this, on French soil, I think we have to show a great image of our country.”
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